The purposae of this study was to compare traditional and quantitative approaches in analysis of the acid-base and electrolyte imbalances in horses with acute gastrointestinal disorders. Venous blood samples were collected from 115 colic horses, and from 45 control animals. Horses with colic were grouped according to the clinical diagnosis into 4 categories: obstructive, ischemic, inflammatory, and diarrheic problems. Plasma electrolytes, total protein, albumin, pH, pCO2, tCO2, HCO3-, base excess, anion gap, measured strong ion difference (SIDm), nonvolatile weak buffers (Atot), and strong ion gap were determined in all samples. All colic horses revealed a mild but statistically significant decrease in iCa2+ concentration. Potassium levels were mildly but significantly decreased in horses with colic, except in those within the inflammatory group. Additionally, the diarrheic group revealed a mild but significant decrease in Na+, tCa, tMg, total protein, albumin, SIDm, and Atot. Although pH was not severely altered in any colic group, 26% of the horses in the obstructive group, 74% in the ischemic group, 87% in the inflammatory group, and 22% in the diarrheic group had a metabolic imbalance. In contrast, when using the quantitative approach, 78% of the diarrheic horses revealed a metabolic imbalance consisting mainly of a strong ion acidosis and nonvolatile buffer ion alkalosis. In conclusion, mild acid-base and electrolyte disturbances were observed in horses with gastrointestinal disorders. However, the quantitative approach should be used in these animals, especially when strong ion imbalances and hypoproteinemia are detected, so that abnormalities in acid-base status are evident.